Today was my first reading ever of “My Crazy Baby Brother.” I went to Wagon Wheel, my old preschool here in Los Angeles, and read the book to five different groups of kids. Rodrigo held up pictures from the book and passed them around to the kids, and my parents were in the back cheering me on. I was very excited and very, very nervous. It didn’t help that the first group I read to was about thirty two year olds. It was sort of like reading to a pile of spaghetti. It was tough to stay focused on reading the story. They crawled all over each other and it seemed like they weren’t paying attention at all. However, when I finished the book and asked if they wanted me to read my next book, they all yelled “yes!” It got easier from there. By the third reading, I felt like myself. Still a little awkward, but definitely less nervous. These kids were about three, and there were only fifteen of them, so that was nice. They really listened to the stories and when I asked if they had any brothers or sisters one girl shouted out that her big sister was a dog. I read the book to the next group, and when I finished, one boy looked at me like I was crazy and said “so, read it again.” By the time I read to the last group I was really having fun. They were four and five years old and they understood everything. They “eewed” and laughed at all the parts that I wanted them to. They asked questions about my writing and drawing process and were very excited by the fact that I had made a book. They were very eager to tell me about their crazy baby siblings. One boy raised his hand and said “my name is Henry and my baby brother puts his head in the garbage.” I can’t wait to read to the next group of kids.
I was lying in bed last night watching Finding Nemo and Rodrigo was sitting next to me reading the Godfather. Somehow we started talking about Shakespeare and Rodrigo asked me when Shakespeare was alive. Our conversation went something like this:
Me: I don’t remember. (I thought this answer would be enough and he would go look it up on the computer, but I was mistaken.)
Rodrigo: Well, it had to have been after Magellan circled this continent…
Me: Oh. Are we doing this the old fashioned way?
Rodrigo: What do you mean?
Me: You know… thinking.
We lasted eleven minutes without googling. My guess had been 16th century and Rodrigo said 17th. It turns out we were both right, he was born in one and died in the other.
Rodrigo came to his conclusion by remembering the works of Shakespeare’s Spanish contemporaries that he had read, and remembering when they were alive. I came to mine by remembering some bad movie where a kid asks something like “yo teach, why we gotta read plays by some guy who’s been dead for 500 years?” Then, I remembered we were in the year 2011, and I subtracted 500. All this studying I have done my whole life and it turns out all I really needed were remedial math and bad movies.